Golden Eagles Alumni Primed for The Tournament
June 30, 2016
MILWAUKEE - When Henry Ellenson strode across the stage last Thursday evening in New York to shake NBA Commissioner Adam Silver's hand, he became the 57th former Marquette player drafted to join an impressive fraternity of former Golden Eagles currently playing professionally, including NBA All-Stars Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler.
While MU's current NBA roster of Wade, Butler, Ellenson, Wesley Matthews, Jae Crowder and Steve Novak could no doubt handle its own among the world's best, Marquette's pro talent outside the NBA was on full display Tuesday and Wednesday at the Al McGuire Center. Marquette hosted a mini camp for former players preparing to represent the Golden Eagles Alumni team this summer in The Basketball Tournament and it included some of the most accomplished players in recent memory.
"I think it speaks volumes about the quality of this program," MU's all-time leading scorer Jerel McNeal said. "I won't even get into the character because all (the players on MU's The Tournament roster) are good guys and high character people. We have some really good players who have come through this program. Obviously we have some guys at the highest level who are impacting the NBA in a very special way, playing their butts off.
"Even beyond that we have some guys who have had some short stints in the NBA and guys who are playing at a very high level in Europe and making a good living for themselves. It speaks very highly of the talent that has come through this program. We forget how fortunate we are sometimes to have this place."
The squad was assembled by former player Dan Fitzgerald to celebrate Marquette's 100th anniversary of its first season of competition in 2016-17. Fitzgerald serves as general manager of the squad and was tasked with compiling a group of players capable of competing for the $2 million prize for the tournament champion.
"We were just excited to get back," McNeal said of the week's mini camp. "We try to get back as much as we can during the offseason and summer. When we get the opportunity we love to come back, be together, reminisce on old times, have a little fun and get some good work in. So this week has been a great example of that. We had about two or three days where we came in and it's been all laughs and hanging out and basketball."
Golden Eagles Alumni Roster:
McNeal leads a roster that on paper stacks up with any slated to compete.
"Over the last 20-or-so years we've been a pretty guard dominant school," McNeal said of the program and the team's makeup for The Tournament. "We've had some good big men too, but there just haven't been a ton of them. We've kind of get all the really, really good guards and throw out those smaller lineups and that's the way Marquette Basketball was played for a while."
In addition to recent Golden Eagles Derrick Wilson and Matt Carlino, McNeal's longtime backcourt-mate Maurice Acker will compete after playing the 2015-16 campaign in France on the same team that former MU big man Davante Gardner played for the previous year. Acker's place in the lineup is an important one as a point guard alongside so many proficient scorers in McNeal, Buycks, Johnson-Odom and Gardner.
Acker put in one of the most efficient seasons in Marquette history as a senior in 2010, leading the BIG EAST Conference in 3-point field goal percentage at nearly 50 percent, and ranked second in the NCAA Division I with a 3.1-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Joe Chapman and Jamil Wilson will fortify the wing positions for the Golden Eagles as versatile defenders. Chapman, a member of the 2003 Final Four team and a senior on MU's first BIG EAST squad, has enjoyed a great playing career in England and Mexico, while Wilson has seen time overseas and in the NBA Developmental League, with Wilson slated to compete for the Los Angeles Lakers in the upcoming NBA Summer League.
Wilson's height and length will also help the group of big men, which includes Gardner, Dwight Burke and recent addition Marcus Jackson. Gardner, a two-time BIG EAST Sixth Man of the Year, played in Japan last year and is one of the best offensive bigs in Marquette history.
Player Resumes at Marquette:
Jamil Wilson (2012-14)
Darius Johnson-Odom (2010-12)
Maurice Acker (2008-10)
Dwight Burke (2006-09)
Derrick Wilson (2012-2015)
Dwight Buycks (2010-11)
Jerel McNeal (2006-09)
Joe Chapman (2003-2006)
Marcus Jackson (2004-05)
Davante' Gardner (2011-14)
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